Weekend MusicWatch: The feminine musique

Portland vocal ensemble In Mulieribus sings music by women composers Saturday


Last month’s Cascadia Composers’ all-women’s contemporary classical music concert was only the first in a series of fascinating concerts of women’s music in the city. Saturday at Portland’s St. Mary’s Cathedral, the sublime women’s vocal ensemble In Mulieribus performs another all-female program featuring not just their signature early music sounds (including some of the earliest female composers we know about, Kassia and Hildegard of Bingen), but also later composers including Portland’s Joan Szymko (familiar to anyone who attends DoJump! and Aurora Chorus concerts) and — most commendably — a brand new work commissioned by the group from emerging New York composer Kay Rhie. Every local music group — even those, like IM, dedicated to old music — should be making investments like this into the future of music. The singers will be accompanied by instrumentalists from Portland Baroque Orchestra and the Wildwood Consort.

There’s more contemporary women’s music happening all week at Portland’s Disjecta arts center, as the Electrogals festival features the work of Northwest electronic music creators, along with workshops, demonstrations, and installations. It’s another electrifying example of Oregon women musicians investing in the success of future generations of their sisters in sound. When Heather Perkins started Electrogals back in 1995, I wonder if she realized how trendy this femmelectronica thing would become today?

The listening station at this week's Electrogals festival uses vintage hairdryers.

Sunday night’s FearNoMusic concert program is an-male affair, but at least the Portland group is directed by a woman, violinist Paloma Griffin, who succeeds violinist Ines Voglar. FNM’s Piano Riot concert at Reed College’s Kaul Auditorium features contemporary music by LA’s Shaun Naidoo (a frequent FNM collaborator), former PSU prof Joseph Waters, and more — including FNM’s original four-piano arrangement of the 20th century’s most powerful music: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. You can hear that composer’s equally magnificent ballet Petrouchka with live orchestra, along with Bizet’s Carmen, at Oregon Ballet Theater’s Portland shows this weekend at Keller Auditorium, too.

Speaking of women and pianos, another rising female star takes center stage at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall this weekend and Monday when pianist Natasha Paremski takes the solo role in Brahms’s Piano Concerto #1 with the Oregon Symphony, which also plays Haydn’s delightful Symphony #60 and Kodaly’s Galanta Dances.

Another fine young pianist, Inon Barnatan, plays a strong solo program (Debussy, Schubert, Ravel and Britain’s most important living composer, Thomas Ades) on Sunday afternoon in Portland Piano International’s series of piano recitals at the Newmark Theater. You can read an interview I did with Ades this month here.

Brahms and Haydn, on a smaller scale, are also on tap in Springfield this weekend when the excellent Chamber Music Amici kick off their new season at the Wildish Theater. Brahms’s first String Sextet and Haydn’s delicious Piano Trio #25 lead the program, and the group (which consists mostly of University of Oregon faculty musicians) also includes a contemporary Tanguetto by an Oregon composer, Amici’s own pianist, Victor Steinhardt.

Across the river in Eugene, the Oregon Mozart Players begin their search for a new music director with a candidate from just up the highway. Portland Youth Philharmonic music director (and fine clarinetist) David Hattner leads the chamber orchestra in its namesake’s popular Piano Concerto #21, Aaron Copland’s vivacious Three Latin American Sketches, and a symphony by Luigi Cherubini.

One Response.

  1. Paloma says:

    Hi Brett! Thanks for the preview. Just FYI- 2 of the 4 pianists in FearNoMusic’s Piano Riot tomorrow night are women: Susan DeWitt Smith and Denise Van Leuven…

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